Baltimore Ravens’ Positions With the Least Depth
Baltimore Ravens' Positions With the Least Depth
The Baltimore Ravens are known for having quality backups, especially after last year. When several key members of the defense went down with serious injuries, their backups were called on to step in for them. Some backups go their entire careers without playing as many snaps as the Ravens' second- and third-stringers did in 2012. Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe were able to assert themselves and emerge as potential starters, but they were special cases. Most of the players thrown into the fire performed admirably, but their inexperience and limited abilities hurt the team more than once. Opposing coaches and players took advantage of the Ravens' leaky defense and mercilessly picked on the backups, particularly in the running game. The Ravens gave up over 100 rushing yards in eight games last season, four more than in 2011. They also recorded 11 less sacks.
Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta have made adding depth to certain positions a priority this offseason and have done a fantastic job thus far. The roster is loaded with potential talent heading into training camp, but it won't stay that way for long. 37 names that now appear on the roster won't be there when the Ravens open against the Denver Broncos on September 5. There are high expectations for Baltimore heading into 2013, but what if the injury bug comes back and plagues the roster like it did last year? How could the lack of depth at some positions affect the team?
There are three centers currently on the roster, but only two are likely to make the 53-man roster. Gino Gradkowski is the frontrunner for the starting job and A.Q. Shipely provides veteran depth. Reggie Stephens has never played a down in his career, so he will likely be relegated to the practice squad. The Ravens have been content with having only two centers in years past, and there's no reason to believe they will change that in 2013.
Nose tackle isn't exactly a crowded spot on the Ravens' roster. Terrence Cody and rookie Brandon Williams are really the only two names listed at the position, though Haloti Ngata is expected to play more nose tackle in 2013. Cody, a former second-round pick, has been a big disappointment due mostly to injuries. Williams has been impressive thus far in the offseason and has a very good chance at taking the starting job.
Quarterback may be too obvious to mention, but the Ravens have consistently shown enough comfort in their quarterbacks to keep only two on the 53-man roster. Joe Flacco is the undisputed starter, while Tyrod Taylor and Caleb Hanie battle it out for the backup spot. Taylor has the edge as and will likely keep his job as Flacco's support. Concerns regarding his reliability have been raised more than once, but his athleticism coupled with Flacco's almost inhuman durability seem to be enough for the Ravens.
There's not a lot of competition going on at tight end but for good reason. Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson have emerged as reliable weapons, so the No. 1 and 2 spots are locked up. Billy Bajema, Matt Furstenburg, and Alex Silvestro are competing for the No. 3, a spot Bajema held last year. Bajema's primary role as a blocker was useful, but Dickson's injury history might compel the Ravens to go with Furstenburg or Silvestro to aid the passing game.
Though outside linebacker is a position that only boasts five names, chances are good that most of them will make the cut. Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil are the obvious leaders, both in skill and experience. Courtney Upshaw and Adrian Hamilton are both sophomores, but Upshaw has the clear edge in experience. Hamilton only played in two games last year and recorded one tackle. If rookie John Simon pans out the way he is expected to, he could easily bump Hamilton to the bottom of the depth chart, or even off the roster.